Yantian Express: container fire - updated 05/21/2019

UPDATE as of May 21: Yantian Express has arrived in Halifax. Discharge will likely take about two weeks, and customers must pay Salvage and General Average Security fees before taking ownership of containers.


UPDATE as of May 20: The vessel is en route to Halifax, and is set to arrive on 5/26. The discharge process is expected to take up to two weeks, and customers with cargo on board will be notified via Arrival Notice when their containers are available for pickup. Containers still without Salvage and General Average Security posted will not be permitted to move beyond Halifax, so it is recommended that customers pay their General Average costs right away to avoid more delays in acquiring their containers.


UPDATE as of May 3: Repairs on the Yantian Express are nearing completion and the vessel is expected to depart Freeport later this month and will deliver the remaining cargo onboard to Halifax, Nova Scotia. General Average still has not been paid for a third of the containers onboard. If you have not already provided your General Average security, please do so in order to receive your cargo in Halifax. 


UPDATE as of March 25: All of the containers impacted by the fire have been discharged from the vessel. The rest of the undamaged containers will remain on the Yantian Express, which will depart Freeport once repairs on the vessel have been completed. The final port of call has not yet been determined. 


UPDATE as of March 11: Salvage operations in Freeport are continuing with the discharge of fire impacted containers and door end inspections of potentially damaged containers. The line is estimating that it will take approximately four weeks to complete the discharge of the damaged containers. 

The line is unable to discharge the remaining cargo in Freeport, as the vessel is at a temporary yard that is designated for handling distressed cargo. While there is a containerized terminal berth in the vicinity, the terminal may not have sufficient capacity for the remaining cargo. Alternative options are currently being investigated.

If you have not done so already, please contact the Average Adjuster in order to arrange for the posting of General Average and Salvage security so that your cargo can be released.


UPDATE as of February 19: Hapag-Lloyd has engaged salvors SMIT Salvage Americas, LLC under a Lloyds Open Form contract (LOF). On termination of the services under the LOF, the salvors are entitled to retain the cargo until salvage security is provided.

In order to expedite the collection of salvage security and to facilitate on-carriage of cargo to destination, SMIT Salvage Americas has set an early security demand (see documents below).

The vessel is at a yard in Freeport, Bahamas designated exclusively to receive distressed containers and cargo. The Port Authority is monitoring the preparation of the site is expected to give their final approval to start discharge operations in the next few days.

Once discharge begins, it is expected to take approximately two months to discharge the distressed containers. There have not been arrangements made yet for discharging the containers unaffected by the fire.

The GA Surveyor identified 202 containers that were most likely a total loss due to the fire, and an additional 460 containers that were stored in the affected area that require inspection. An additional 17 reefer containers may have been without power during the fire fighting operations, and have been selected for survey in Freeport.

Lists of the affected containers can be downloaded from the Richards Hogg Lindley website: using password: YE119GA

If your container is on any of the published lists, contact the GA Surveyor, Mr. Gianluca Rolff of TMC at 

If your containers is one of 460 that require inspection, or the additional 17 reefer containers that were potentially impacted, and you would like to send a surveyor to take part in the door end inspection, you should submit the following document:

The 202 containers which are likely a total loss as well as any container not designated by RHL will not be subject to inspection in Freeport.


UPDATE as of February 14: U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued the following guidance for cargo owners impacted by the Yantian Express fire:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been informed that many shipments aboard the Yantian Express were released electronically in early January based on the estimated date of arrival.  Normally, a late arrival of a vessel would generate a new entry/release date but in this case with no arrival, that is not possible.  This leaves entries that have been released but are not yet arrived in the U.S.  In many cases, entry summaries were certified establishing both the release of cargo and the responsibility of payment of duties and taxes.  

CBP has identified the following scenarios and responses:

  • Entry is in released status but no entry summary has been filed due to the known non-arrival of the vessel.  In this scenario, entry cancellation requests should be made to CBP via ACE.  Identify to local CBP ports involved that these are entries from the Yantian Express to facilitate cancellation.  CBP should not issue late file assessments against these shipments.
  • Entry summary has been filed and payment is overdue.  These Entry Summaries should be cancelled and CBP should take no enforcement action on these shipments.  If the entry is on a preliminary statement, the entry summaries may be removed off of statement and then the entry summaries can be cancelled.
  • Entry Summaries have been filed and paid.  Unliquidated entries should not be protested. Centers should complete an administrative refund (at refund request from importer in writing) and cancel the entry summary.


UPDATE as of February 4: Hapag-Lloyd has appointed Richards Hogg Lindley, General Average and Salvage Adjusters to prepare the General Average and Salvage adjustment and to collect the General Average and Salvage security from parties with cargo on the ship. Cargo will only be released upon provision of the required security.

Here are the Standard Instructions provided by Richards Hogg Lindley:

If you have questions regarding the provision of the required security, you can contact Richards Hogg Lindley directly. They will be able to provide further information about the required General Average security for insured and uninsured cargo. 

Richards Hogg Lindley Average Adjusters and Marine Claims Consultants  



UPDATE as of January 29: Yantian Express is still en route to Freeport Bahamas. The current plan is to offload all cargo from the vessel. Following that, further information will be provided about what cargo may proceed to the next port of call. However, the timing of this is not clear yet. 


UPDATE as of January 25: The Yantian Express is en route to Freeport, Bahamas, and should arrive the week of January 28. Due to the fire, General Average has been declared. General Average is a principle of maritime law that requires all stakeholders to share any losses resulting from extraordinary events that threaten the safety of the vessel, cargo, and crew.

The York-Antwerp rules regarding General Average state that, "There is a general average act when, and only when, any extraordinary sacrifice or expenditure is intentionally and reasonably made or incurred for the common safety for the purpose of preserving from peril the property involved in a common maritime adventure." 

The costs related to extinguishing a fire on a ship, and the related damage done to a ship and cargo, are allowed as general average. Damage caused by smoke or by heat is not included in the general average. In addition, demurrage, loss of market, and any loss or damage sustained or expense incurred due to delay is also not allowed as general average. 

Average Adjusters will be appointed to coordinate the collection of documentation and General Average securities. Prior to cargo being released, all parties will be required to contribute to the General Average fund. Further information will be provided by Hapag-Lloyd.


UPDATE as of January 18: The fire is widely contained. On January 15, the ocean-going tug “Union Sovereign” arrived to further assist the operations. Another ocean-going tug is on its way. At this time, Hapag-Lloyd is unable to provide the possible port of refuge and estimated time of arrival. 

Import customs filings should be delayed until the date and arrival port have been determined. If import customs filings have been completed, customers are advised to investigate with their customs brokers to determine the appropriate course of action.


UPDATE as of January 10: Hapag-Lloyd has reported that the fire has been brought under control and is contained. Five crew members were transferred from the Smit Nicobar tug boat back to the Yantian Express, and the ship is being towed to Halifax by the Maersk Mobiliser. It is expected to arrive in Halifax on January 20.  

All cargo in Bay 12 on deck and forward is directly affected by the fire, as has all cargo in Hold 1 (Bay 1 to 9). They also expect that all cargo in Hold 2 (Bay 11 to 17) is affected by fire, smoke, water. In addition, there may be damage caused by smoke, heat, or water in adjacent areas.

All reefers in Bay 1 to 24 are without power and switched off. All other bays with reefers have been continuously supplied with power and are in operation.


On January 3, a fire broke out in a container on the Yantian Express and then spread to other containers. Despite the ongoing firefighting support from the salvage tug “Smit Nicobar,” the fire has not been contained as of January 7. The crew was evacuated from the ship, and the firefighting efforts with the salvage tug are continuing. 

The ship is approximately 800 nautical miles off the coast of Canada (Nova Scotia). The commercial tugboat Maersk Mobiliser is en route and plans to tow the vessel to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

At this time, Hapag-Lloyd has not been able to provide an estimate of the damage to the cargo. If you're tracking containers on the Yantian Express, you'll see the vessel is flagged as being late, but we have no further updates about when the fire may be contained or when to expect your shipments. 

Be sure to check your dashboard for the most recent information. We'll post further updates here as necessary. 

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